Chilumjusht Festival In Kailash Valley

In these days of crisis and tension in Pakistan people of Chitral are living their customs. They celebrated the annual festival of Chilum Jusht with same traditions as it happens every year. This festival also attracted foreigners to tell the world a lighter side of us.

Kailash Valley is an ancient valley in Chitral Pakistan, where people speak ancient Greek Language and are considered to be remanants of the Greek army of Alexander the Great. One of the major attractions of Chitral are the Kalash valley the home of the Kafir-Kalash or “Wearers of the Black Robe”, a primitive pagan tribe. Their ancestry is enveloped in mystery and is the subject of controversy. A legend says that five soldiers of the legions of Alexander of Macedon settled in Chitral and are the progenitors of the Kafir-Kalash. The 3,000 strong Kafir-Kalash live in the valley of Birir, Bumburet and Rambur in the South. Bamburet, the largest and the most picturesque valley of the Kafir-Kalash, is 40km from Chitral and is connected by a jeepable road. Birir, 34km away is accessible by a jeepable road. Rambur is 32km from Chitral, the road is jeepable.

The Kalash women wear black gowns of coarse cloth in summer and hand-spun wool dyed in black in winter. Their picturesque headgear is made of woolen black material decked out with cowrie’s shells, buttons and crowned with a large colored feather. In parts of Greece even today some women sport a similar head covering. The Kalash people love music and dancing particularly on occasions of their religious festivals like Joshi Chilimjusht (14th & 15th May – spring), Phool (20th – 25th September) and Chowas (18th to 21st December).

“Joshi /Chilimjusht” the spring festival, in the middle of May lasts for four days. The spring festival honors the fairies and also safeguards the goats and shepherds before they go to the pastures. Before the festival the women and girls gather from all over the valley and decorate their houses. Inside the houses local wine and milk products are shared.

Every religious ceremony is accompanied by dancing and rhythmical chant to a beat of the drum. The women wearing their traditional black robes, ornate cowries shelled head dresses and adorned with colored necklaces, dance in a circle. Then the men join in : it may be a man and a women or a man in the middle with a women on each side, lovers being free to intermingle. One hand is held round the waist of the partner and the other round the shoulders. Tribal chiefs in colorful dresses narrate stories of bygone days and events.

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